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Playoff Preview: Momentum vital for RSL in crowded West

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It’s a huge week for Real Salt Lake.

MLS: Montreal Impact at Real Salt Lake Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re trying to follow along with the packed Western Conference as we near the playoffs, you’re not alone.

Here’s our guide to this week’s matches. We’ll quickly go over each match and the implications for RSL — but we’ll be paying special attention to Seattle, Portland and Vancouver this week.

Matches

Wednesday, 5:30 p.m.: D.C. United vs. Minnesota United FC

This midweek match won’t impact our position, but a win for D.C. — likely, for me, as they’re fighting for a playoff spot and are in close range — would put Minnesota in a dismal position if they want a playoff spot. As it stands, they’re nearly eliminated already. This will make more of a difference when considering that we face Minnesota on Saturday.

Saturday, 5:30pm: Toronto FC vs. LA Galaxy

If TFC want a playoff spot, they’re going to have to push hard now. It could be a huge turnaround for the season. They’re not doing particularly well. LA Galaxy are in a similar position, but they’re closer to the line — just three points off right now. Should we continue our good form, this match won’t make a difference. I’m hoping for a Toronto win all the same.

Saturday, 6pm: FC Dallas vs. Columbus Crew

Sitting with 49 points, FC Dallas is at the top of the conference. The ridiculous thing is that we could, in a crazy world, end up ahead of them at the end of the season, but it’s unlikely. A Columbus win would be quite nice.

Saturday, 6:30pm: Houston Dynamo vs. Portland Timbers

Houston are in a Minnesota United position, and they haven’t won since July 7. They’re probably going to lose to 44-point Timbers, who have played 27 games to our 28. Houston almost certainly won’t make the playoffs, but anything that keeps Portland further away from us is a distinct positive.

Saturday, 7:30pm: RSL vs. Minnesota United FC

You know this game. You really do. We’ll talk plenty about it this week, but let’s just keep in mind that Minnesota plays on Wednesday, and they could be very much outside a playoff spot.

Saturday, 8pm: Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders

A Seattle win ties us on points, so Vancouver should be our friend in this one. I’d rather a draw, but a Vancouver win would still be something — but it would put them within just one point of our total. That’s a precarious position to be in, so maybe a Seattle win is better. Hard to say, really.

Saturday, 8:30pm: LAFC vs. New England Revolution

A win for New England is a win for us (if... well, if we win.) Should we win and LAFC lose, we would sit above them in the standings having played one game more. It would make our path forward significantly easier.

Saturday, 8:30pm: San Jose Earthquakes vs. Sporting Kansas City

They’re out of the playoffs, but San Jose Earthquakes could still play the role of spoiler. SKC has 48 points, so we can’t pass them this week, but ground gained is ground gained.

Best case

Real Salt Lake could end the week as high as third in the West. We’ll need to win, of course, and we need LAFC to lose or draw. Should we win and LAFC draw, we’d be ahead on wins, the first tiebreaker.

Worst case

Real Salt Lake could end the week as low sixth place in the West if we lose, and if Seattle and Portland win. That could be on goal differential, as Seattle, with a win, would remain ahead of us there.